I think the greatest thing I’ve done for my Daughter as a baby was breastfeed her for as long as I did. 19 months to be exact, it could’ve gone on longer because it was difficult weening her off, but it was time to make that transition. You may ask why do I think feeding my baby is such an accomplishment? Well, because it was not an easy task at the start of it. We often see images in the media of the happy-go-lucky Mommi nursing her satisfied baby so beautifully, but in reality the process is sometimes ugly. Eventually it becomes second nature to nurse your baby wherever-whenever, but getting to that comfortable point and ease is a process.
I still remember the day so vividly, it was the day after coming home from the hospital with my brand new baby as a first time Mommi, I just knew that I was going to be nursing my baby like a BOSS! I made sure to have her latch on in the hospital so that she would get the benefits of the colostrum as well as practicing how to latch on with the help of a lactation specialist, but I knew the real milk hadn’t arrived yet. I had done all of my research, consulted and met with a lactation specialist during my pregnancy, and had my Mom there every step of the way for advice and support. She breastfed 3 healthy babies for at least a year so her words of encouragement and support really guided me through this hectic process. Even with all of this preparation nothing could prepare me for the day my milk arrived. It was 5 am, I was actually sleeping (a win for a brand new Mommi), but at that moment I was awaken from what felt like someone had dropped bricks on my chest! My breast were so heavy all of a sudden I had trouble getting up. They were tight and engorged, and there were blue veins popping up all over my chest. The only thing I thought to do was stand in the shower with wash cloths laid on my chest and let warm water run over it to try to ease the pain and discomfort. At that moment I knew that this was not going to be as easy as I had imagined.
After surviving it through the arrival of this “liquid gold” I made sure to have my baby latch on and feed as best she could, she was still learning so she wasn’t getting much milk from me. All day long little-by-little I was trying to get her in the habit of nursing. This was honestly tiring and frustrating, many times I contemplated giving up and just giving her a bottle but I knew that I would be disappointed in myself. I knew I wanted to breastfeed my daughter because I felt that was best for her. My milk wasn’t slowing down it was coming in more and more and it was literally painful to not release when she wasn’t able to latch on properly. I begin to use my breast pump so that I wouldn’t allow the milk to slow down from not being released. See my milk was like supply and demand. The more she ate (or I pumped) the more and faster it came in, and I didn’t want it to slow down the flow because I knew she would catch up one day, and boy did she! She ate every hour on the hour and the milk was flowing beautifully. I’m so thankful I remained consistent because it didn’t happen easily at first, but I was determined and as long as I had milk flow I knew we could do it, my baby girl and I. Once we got it down and into a routine the bonding moments we had are unforgettable. It’s something Magical about you nourishing your baby like only you can. That God provided everything your baby needs inside of you. At every feeding my baby looked into my eyes and was content and at peace, knowing that she was safe, pressed firmly against her Mommi who adored every part of her. Her little hands gently exploring everything in reach getting to know me even better each day as we grew together. A Mother and Daughter bond that is unbreakable and still to this day the sweetest connection I’ve known that I owe all to my choice to breastfeed my baby.
While breastfeeding is something I advocate for, I am aware that there are women who physically cannot breastfeed their babies. And those who can but choose not to, that’s fine too. Breastfeeding is a sacrifice and is every Mommies choice. I say to those who desire to but are struggling to get over that hump, here are a few tips that may help!
- Be Patient with yourself and baby: Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally as we would like to think, it’s something Mommi and baby learn together. This is your reminder to be patient with yourself and your newborn when starting. If it doesn’t seem like your baby is latching on it doesn’t mean they will never be able to. Remember not to get discouraged, it takes practice and a lot of patience.
- Remember why you chose to breastfeed: Each time I grew frustrated I made sure to focus on why I made this choice at the beginning of my pregnancy in the first place. Remembering that commitment allowed me to reevaluate, refocus my attention and shift my thoughts.
- Breastfeeding is another bonding opportunity with your baby: I can’t say this enough, but I will say it again. The most peaceful and loving moments were when I was nursing my Chandler B. She was so content and so was I. Sharing those 15-20 mins during feedings made me appreciate Motherhood in a way I had never imagined I could. I always encourage new Mommies-to-be to take those opportunities because babies don’t stay babies for long, before you know it their infancy is a thing of the past! There are many bonding moments to share with your baby, but this was always my favorite.
- The nutritional benefits: We all want to give our babies the absolute best, and as I mentioned earlier, God created in us everything our babies need during their first year of life-how amazing, right!? It’s incredible that a tiny human being can live off purely milk for so long but that’s a testament at how much of a super hero Mommies are! The health benefits of breastfeeding are large in number, some include; Protects against allergies and eczema, causes less stomach upset, diarrhea, and constipation, reduces the risk of viruses, urinary tract infections, inflammatory bowel disease, gastroenteritis, ear infections, and respiratory infections, lessens the risk of SIDS. And the list goes on! There are a wide variety of sources you can read online that can elaborate more on why breast milk is the gold standard in nourishment for your baby!
- Seek support from family or friends who have breastfed their babies: Don’t forget while the journey may not be easy you don’t have to do it alone. Reach out to family and friends who don’t mind giving advice or helping, there’s also support groups and professional help you can turn to if you don’t have people you know that can. MommiNation is committed to supporting Mommies through the ends and outs of Motherhood. Check out some of our other informative blogs this week during Black Breast Feeding Week! Thanks for reading!